This easy slow cooker Indian butter chicken is made with boneless chicken, onion, spices, coconut milk, tomato paste, and peas. Served on a bed of rice, it’s a rich and comforting one-dish meal.
If you think slow cooker Indian butter chicken with all the rich, creamy, comforting goodness of the authentic real deal and the convenience of the slow cooker is too good to be true, think again. Heck, there’s even peas in the recipe, so you don’t even have to make a separate side dish.–Angie Zoobkoff
Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken
- 6-quart slow cooker
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks
- 1 medium (7 oz) onion finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves finely chopped
- One (1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger root peeled and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter cut into pieces
- One (6-ounce) jar tomato paste
- One (13 1/2-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons plain full-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups sweet peas (thawed if frozen or blanched if fresh)
To serve (optional)
- Cooked basmati rice for serving
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
- Toasted sliced almonds
- In a 6-quart slow cooker, combine the chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Stir to evenly coat the chicken. Add the butter, tomato paste, and coconut milk and stir again.
- Cover and cook on low until the chicken pulls apart easily with a fork, 4 to 5 hours.
- Before serving, stir in the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and peas, cover, and continue to cook until everything is warmed through. Serve the butter chicken with rice and, if desired, top with cilantro, toasted coconut, and toasted slivered almonds.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
My husband said that this is the best recipe we’ve made from Leite’s yet! He enjoyed the tenderness of the chicken, the spice, and the creaminess of the dish.
This was a fairly hands off recipe, taking about 20 minutes of actual work time. This is also the first recipe I’ve ever made using a slow cooker. I used chicken breasts for this recipe as my taster doesn’t like dark meat.
The chicken was tender and pulled broke apart easily with a wooden spoon at about 5 hours. As it wasn’t dinner time yet I just turned the cooker off and let it sit before adding the peas and reheating.
I used a spicy Madras curry powder. According to my husband, the finished dish had just the right amount of spice.
This is a winner of a slow cooker dinner! After we’d finished eating and were cleaning up, I went back and ate another partial (I was restrained) plateful. This is not something I usually do, but this was an unusually good slow cooker meal.
The chopping and measuring take a fair amount of time upfront but are worth it at the end of the day. While flavors can wash out over the long stretch of time a slow cooker takes, the late addition of the lemon, yogurt, and peas ensured this meal stayed bright. The curry held up strong throughout and contributed to a more complex blend of flavors than I typically expect from a slow cooker.
I used garnishes of cilantro, coconut, and lightly toasted cashews and served whole wheat naan alongside.
This recipe was one of the easiest slow cooker recipes to put together and it smelled amazing all day. I have made butter chicken myself many times so I did find this to be more on the mild side, but if you’re a busy person or have kids so you don’t want it to be too spicy, this is the perfect weeknight meal.
I served this dish with garlic naan, basmati rice, and topped it with cilantro. I felt as though it was lacking a bit of depth in flavor. The dish smelled amazing and complex like Indian dishes. I would recommend maybe adding a few more spices as it did have a strong cinnamon taste to it. The reason why I’m saying it’s a TC despite my negative comments is because it is a good dish if you’re just starting out trying to cook Indian food or if you have kids or you’re just a really busy person as this was really easy to make (not much prep) and it would be a great weeknight meal.
Butter Chicken is one of our favorite dishes to order when we go out for Indian food. A slightly creamy, tomato-based sauce filled with tender chicken and flavored with warm spices, this slow cooker, homemade version was honestly just as tasty as a restaurant version!
The great thing is, it is so hands-off, you pop everything into the trusty slow cooker and a few hours later, dinner is served. I served our butter chicken with toasted coconut (unsweetened), toasted sliced almonds and chopped cilantro. The added crunch on the top was lovely!
What a delicious, easy, healthy meal that my young kids and I truly enjoyed! I adore “set it and forget it” style slow cooker recipes and this fits the bill.
I love the color and pop that the sweet peas give this dish and the addition of lemon that adds a nice zing.
Do not skimp on the cilantro as it adds much needed freshness to this slow cooker dish! If you want truly shreddable chicken, opt for the thighs. I used chicken breast and was still able to shred the chicken but it was not easy.
If you opt for chicken breasts do not cook as long as the recipe indicates. I cooked it on the high setting for 2 hours and that was plenty. If setting the cooker on the slow setting, I would suggest approximately 4 hours if using breasts.
Try the saucy leftovers over cauliflower. I think potatoes would be excellent with leftovers as well.
This recipe had all the makings of a good Indian dish (at least, the mainstream ones available at a local Indian restaurant in the US). The sauce was thick and flavorful and not so thin that it just drained through the rice. The chicken fell apart easily, but was plentiful enough that I didn’t have to go searching for it with the serving spoon. Even using chicken breast, the meat pieces were moist from the creamy coconut milk. The flavor of the sauce was satisfying, though I think just an extra little salt would have helped make it more succulent, especially since serving over rice will dilute the flavor.
My curry powder was not especially spicy either, so I would add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne as well to warm it up. In the end, anything that my boyfriend–a Midwest-bred, meat-and-potatoes kind of guy–gives two thumbs up is a recipe I tend to hold onto.
Originally published March 26, 2019
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
I will definitely make this again. I used chicken thighs as I prefer thighs over breasts, particularly for slow cooker recipes as I feel like breast meat can get stringy. I used cilantro. There were no leftovers to try as naan bread roll-ups the next day. Didn’t have any naan bread left, anyway!